FCC Approves Clearwire Venture


Washington -- The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the Clearwire wireless broadband venture in which major cable, Internet and technology companies are looking to battle AT&T and Verizon in the mobile data services business.

Clearwire, relying on Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) technology, is promising to make high-speed wireless Internet access available to more than 140 million Americans within 30 months of FCC approval.

"Today’s item enables the creation of a new competitor in the broadband Internet access market. That’s good news—really good news," FCC Democrat Michael Copps said in a statement.

Sprint Nextel will have 51% control over a $14.5 billion company in which Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have also taken minority stakes totaling $3.2 billion.

Google’s has put in $500 million in a strategic investment that will make it Clearwire’s default Internet search engine.

Clearwire is rolling out a so-called 4G network, with network speeds topping out at 6 Mbps nationwide.

FCC Republican Robert McDowell objected to a merger condition under which Sprint Nextel has five years to stop requesting support from the agency's $4.3 billion high-cost universal service fund, which is used to keep phone rates affordable in rural areas.